Harvesting of mangroves in Lamu banned

A section of mangroves at Kililana area in Lamu West where construction of the Lamu Port berths is ongoing. Thousands of mangroves had to be cut down to pave way for the project. KFS has banned minimal harvesting of mangroves in the county. PHOTO: NATASHA NEMA

Lamu, KENYA: The Kenya Forestry Services (KFS) in Lamu County has banned minimal harvesting of mangroves to comply with Deputy President William Ruto’s order to suspend logging in all forests in the country for the next 90 days.

Speaking to Baraka FM in Lamu on Monday, County Forest Conservator Evans Maneno said no resident is allowed to continue harvesting mangroves as has been the norm until the order is lifted.

Mr. Maneno however lauded the Lamu people for their cooperation in ensuring illegal logging of forests does not take place in the county.

He said the Kenya Forestry Service has been at the forefront in creating awareness on the importance of the mangrove trees to the fisheries sector at the Coastal strip, a move that has greatly helped in the protection of the forests.

He said KFS in conjunction with the local communities is even engaged in environmental conservation efforts to ensure all the gazetted forests in Lamu are fully protected.

Mr. Maneno thanked the locals for respecting and avoiding illegal cutting down of trees in the region.

Among the gazette forests in Lamu include Amu Mangrove Forest, Witu and Kipini Forest Reserve and the Boni forest.

“We normally don’t allow people to do logging in forests. There has been minimal harvesting of mangroves in the county. We have however decided to stop the exercise to adhere to DP Ruto’s order,” said Mr. Maneno.

He said, “Illegal logging has not been taking place in Lamu since KFS has been at the forefront creating awareness to the local communities to assist preserve our forests. In coordination with the local communities, we have managed to form associations to protect the forest. We already have the Witu Community forest Association which has greatly helped us. I urge them to continue working closely with us for mutual benefits.”

However, mangrove cutters have called on the government to allow them to continue with the business since it is their only source of livelihood.

Mangrove Cutters Association Chairman Abdulrahman Aboud said the activity is even healthier to the mangroves.

“They should let us continue with the minimal harvesting of mangroves. Stopping us from conducting such an activity will make us suffer since we solely depend on cutting and selling of mangroves for survival,” said Mr. Aboud.

Another resident Mohamed Mbwana called for the need for the Mangrove forest cover to be maintained through the provision of free seedlings which will be planted on alternative lands.

“As we do minimal harvesting of the mangroves, the government can also choose to provide us with free mangrove seedlings to re-plant so that the forest cover can stand rather than completely denying us access to the forest,” said Mr. Mbwana.